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Wind Cheater

July 12, 2005
July 12, 2005

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July 12, 2005

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Wind Cheater

To Peter Lonard of Australia, the unquestioned king of the low-ball hitters, the words Down Under have more than one meaning

Peter Lonard's breakthrough victory on Tour came in April at the MCI Heritage, and it was hardly a coincidence that while the field averaged 72.7 in the first round at Harbour Town, Lonard shot a nine-under 62. Why? Because the wind was gusting up to 30 mph that day and Lonard, an Australian, is considered the best low-ball player in the world. "By day's end," says Lonard, "we were hitting driver and then three- or four-irons into the green at the 18th--and we were playing off the ladies' tee."

This is an article from the July 12, 2005 issue

As a rule Aussies are good wind players because of where they grow up, and they have traditionally done well in the British Open, where the weather can be a severe challenge. Peter Thomson won the championship five times. In all, the British has gone to an Australian on nine occasions.

Lonard, 37, says fans sometimes don't appreciate his beneath-the-wind shots. "I'll hit a knockdown shot," he says, "and someone will say, 'Wow, he almost topped it.' They're not used to seeing those shots." But Lonard's peers marvel at his abilities. At the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, during which he was paired with Hale Irwin for the first two rounds, Lonard hit so many low, worm-burning tee shots that Irwin told him, "Son, if you hit anything but a knockdown driver for the rest of your life, you're an idiot." --Gary Van Sickle

Peter Lonard's Knockdown: Easy as 1, 2, 3

Lonard has two thoughts when he wants to keep a shot under the wind: "I pretend I'm hitting a chip," he says, "and as the golf instructors say, 'Swing slow, hit it low.'" Here are Lonard's keys to executing the shot.

"Stand with your body over the ball more than usual and grip down on the club. Move the ball slightly behind the middle of your stance. Make sure the club face is square to the target--when you put the ball back in your stance, the face tends to open."

"Make a half-swing through the ball, using the arms without a lot of body movement. The trick is to not swing too hard. The harder you swing, the more spin you create--and the more the ball spins into the wind, the harder it is to control."

COLOR PHOTOWILLIAM WEST/AFP/GETTY IMAGESCONTROL FREAK An abbreviated follow-through helps Lonard keep the ball low and on target.COLOR PHOTOFRED VUICH  1 COLOR PHOTOFRED VUICH  2 COLOR PHOTOFRED VUICH  3